A New Canvas and a Canvas Changed

Dance season has held my focus for the past four months, so I have not had much time to catch up on a few sessions from over the winter. We are winding down now, one more to go and then a little break until nationals. When I can get a few dance sessions in the studio up to date, I will tell you all about it, but right now we are going to take a little peek into a hard rocking blues man gone solo.

I first met Brian while he was the front man for a four piece hard rocking blues act. These guys were a throwback and I very quickly became a fan of what they were putting out. But as it is with many young bands, things change and people go different ways. Brian and I got together to create a body of work that he could use for promotional material as he ventured out into the world of a being solo musician.

I had ordered a canvas backdrop from Savage just for this session. Savage is known for its amazing selection of paper and muslin drops and I had never even considered them for canvas. When I saw the color was exactly what I wanted and the fact that it was much, much less expensive than the well known canvas companies I figured I would take the plunge and pick one up. Oh my goodness, the thing is an incredibly gorgeous backdrop. I am now hooked on canvas.

Brian’s music has taken a little turn into a mostly acoustic avenue these days, still incredibly soulful, only in a more relaxing atmosphere. He has not put down the electric by any means, and it is going to be great watching and listening where he goes from here.

Since we had the time, of course had to get this look in. It goes perfect with the new backdrop and meshes well with his current direction.

You can check out Brian’s latest release, Learning Curves, and his social channels over at his site. Hope you dig it as much as I do.

Thanks for stopping by, talk to you soon

Phil

All About the Folk

Music that is. I am always amazed how different genres of song influence the soul. By nature I am a progressive hard rocker, raised on Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Yes and Genesis with a ton of Rush thrown in. These days it Sevendust, Shinedown and Godsmack laying a base for me along with a bunch of other rockers getting playtime. Need to put a quick shoutout in for Badflower, who have been on the top of my playlist for the past two months.

And then, there is the other side. It is like a split personality carving out a large part of my musical wanderings. The mellower but just as energetic persona influenced by Folk music. My favorite songs over the past few years have been from The Lone Bellow and John Mayer. Perhaps it is because I have the blood of a southerner but was raised in the Northeast. Does it matter? Nope.

Many of my local favorites are based on the softer, more passionate side of my interests. I was very excited when Joseph Miller answered the call and expressed interest for a sitting. It was just over three years ago when I first saw Joe strum his acoustic at a show. And at the time I could not resist sniping this candid of him next to the bill, checking out the history of the Wonder Bar while he was waiting to go on stage.

We hooked up over the holidays to create some material for him to use in for some upcoming promos. After a little catching up we got right to work. I did not even let him take his coat off, it fit the color scheme nicely.

Running the patterns, I am always one for a more dramatic look

The guitar came out of course and we had a little fun with that, coming away with a few different looks. I will always leave space on one side or the other for typeset with images. Need to provide content that is easy and suitable for use.

One of my favorites, and I think one of Joe’s as well. This one is for the walls!

You can check out Joe along with his work and whereabouts right here!

Thanks for stopping by!

Phil

Kicking off a new body of work

I started a personal project back in December with a goal of developing a body of work geared towards promotional material for the musicians I cover. And, while I am not out there as much as I want to be I still pay attention to what goes on and who is where, hoping that this little thing called life slows down for me again soon so I can get back to the scene I love so much.

I had a few bites from the posting I put out, fell a couple short of the goal, but spring weather approaches and with it the attempts to finish out my initial shot list. Most of the musicians I have shot so far I have followed or covered for a few years so it was really cool getting them into a controlled environment for a change. The first one up was soft spoken, dreamy, singer songwriter Mackenzie Brown.

I have wanted to get Mackenzie into the studio for a while now for more than just promo material, she has a great look and was a perfect subject for my foray into colored gels. And while our time was short, towards the end of our session I did find a good combination of lights and gels that work great together. Of course I had to start out without the gels just so we could have some “normal” material to work with. I also messed around with some color grading, making use of some new Lightroom presets and LUTS in Photoshop.


This next image I honestly have no recollection on the base configuration and what treatment was done to it in post. But it is totally different from the rest of our series and is one I am still tweaking away at to this day. I might have just jacked up the power on the background light and perhaps a blue gel was added as well.

As we got in the groove (…I stopped screwing around…) we began to create some stunning material and things really began to click. I love this classic look and the hint of a blue gel adds nice contrast to her hair and shoulder.

One of my favorite looks from our session. There is so much to be said about someone who can pull off an expression like this. Mackenzie has perfected the no smile, retain a personality look which is incredibly hard to do. Of course one of the reasons I wanted to get her in to begin with .

I could not resist making a crop of it. I also left the background alone.

More gel play as the weather turns. I have a good combination that I can work with and now it is all about experimenting with the set up and getting comfortable with the boundries. You can check out Mackenzie’s music here, and more to come from the artists and groups that have visited.

Thanks for stopping by!

Phil

My First Go Round with High Speed Sync

Being someone who likes action oriented photos as much as I like the static ones, I have always wanted to get into high-speed sync. The Canon 430 used on camera does a decent job, if you are close, but I have always wanted something with a bit more juice to it. Not having the budget to purchase a desired Profoto or Broncolor unit, I went all in on the Flashpoint Xplor 600 Pro, half the cost of the others.

There is quite a bit for me to still learn about it, but as soon as I got it I secured my test subjects and went into HSS mode. I will go over more of the features in a future offering, this one was all about fast shutter speeds.

The majority of my outside sessions involve a setting sun, I love the combo of a lit subject and a colorful, scenic background so these images are some of what went down on the first day of tests. This image is one of the last of the evening, and while you do not necessarily need to shoot HSS to achieve it, I did it anyway. f4.5 at 1/1250.

Allie used to be one of my dance girls so I have known her for a number of years, but never had the opportunity to get in a session with her. Allie does not dance competitively anymore, but she does cheer so she still has those pliable abilities and of course we got them out.

f4.5 1/1250

Solid result. Crisp, mid-air edges. I think I was still using a soft box here so we got some pretty good flash coverage area. Funny thing, these images are six weeks old and it is the first time I am noticing that yellow sign.

Since we seem to be going in reverse order here, this next image was shot at f4, 1/2500th of a second. It did not make the final selections – I am all about the face – but I am impressed with the stopping power. The light provided just enough detail in the image and 1/2500th caught Allie with hands just off the ground and the sand in the air.

I originally thought this next image could be obtained just using a reflector. After studying it, I do not think it would be possible. F3.2, 1/4000th of a second. Soft box just above head and pointing down.

One of the first images of the evening while we were getting dialed in with light and position. Another at 3.2 4000.

I was very happy with my first foray into high speed sync and the Flashpoint xplor600 pro. Be back soon with our next adventure with the new gear.

Thanks for stopping by!

Phil

 

No Tolerance for Ignorance

I need to get back and pay attention to this area of my life. Growing up I thought life was supposed to get easier as you got older, it seems to be steamrolling right along, without a chance to step back and relax. I have started to make time for doing nothing, just to try and clear the mind and body. Gym time stays in the loop three or four days a week, but certain things have definitely taken a back seat as of late. When you sit in front of a computer for most of the day, you kinda want to stay away from it at night. It just saps your energy.

I was sitting outside tonight, watching the sun set, it was pure and peaceful. I always want to find somewhere to capture it, but I have shot at most of the good locations around here and have no desire to drive more than needed. [discovered a couple new locations last week!] Plus I have run out of room on the walls and the last thing we need are more digital only images. I like to hold and remember the moment, not just look and move on.

Anyway, what prompted me to get going here is a comment that was thrown at a coworker I recently shot. Melissa has busted her ass for two years, transforming her life and her health during that time to become an award winning body builder. TWO YEARS. In her first competition she did not place, this was around one year after she began her journey. In her second one, another year later, she placed second in two different categories! Busted her ass, full time job, mom, wife, homeowner and she got it done!! If that is not bad ass I do not know what is.

So just a few days ago someone told her she looked like a man. Ummmmm, not. Why, because she is fit?  Just stop. Intimidated perhaps? Should be, I am and I am fairly confident with my appearance. (The over 50 belly and loose neck skin has made its way forward) What is wrong with people these days. I would challenge anyone to put in half the effort that Melissa has put in. So that comment kind of bothered me and was just the spark I needed to get going here.

During the actual competitions, it is all bikinis for these ladies, but for the sessions I like pure fitness. This may be adjusted if we shoot again, just to stick it to a few people. I have never appreciated shooting scantily clad bodies for the simple fact I feel it degrades the person. How is that for old fashioned thinking. Eyes, hair, face and shoulders are all I need.

We tried a couple of different looks during the session, played with some gels a little and even got the atmosphere aerosol out for a long burst. I am still feeling a bit confined in my space, the low ceilings especially weigh on me, but Grids are good and light is just light after all. I just added one to the inventory for my favorite outside shoots. Touch base on that one in the next offering.

Thanks for stopping by, get out and get it done!

Phil

Family Time

The holidays approach, the house is clean, strike up the oven and break out the leaf for the table. Lets all get together, eat, drink, nap, watch movies, play games, then rinse and repeat.  Blood relatives and extended families congregate for their specific cultural reasons and engage in…..

Why do we need an excuse? Call your family now and say hi, have not talked to someone since the last holiday? Call them, visit them, do not wait. Do it. Now. I am guilty of this just as you are. Life is not that simple anymore, but oh I wish it were. Just to be kicking back without having to worry what city will be next up for craziness.

My mom and dad turned 91 this year, our daughter 18, crazy stuff those two ends of the spectrum present us with. My parents have not seen Britt in a couple of years because life has given us a very windy road to maneuver, but this holiday season we are stressing the importance of resolving that fact.  Southbound again. Finally.

I had the pleasure of shooting a large family over the summer as they all congregated for a milestone celebration.  A mid morning session after I worked an overnight shift had my nerves activated but a few cups of coffee got me going and I was able to subtly feed off the love this family had for each other. And this makes it all worth it.

Going into this solo enforced the need I have for my “assistant” (Mee wife) but we were at opposite ends of the state almost. Nat is actually on her way to Maine to see one of her besties right now. Without me. Maine. The things we do for love.

The Primaries

And the kiddos

Combined as a group or separated as a unit, as long as we are together everything will always work out.

And at the end of the day, we can be assured that no matter how many challenges life brings us there is always time for silliness.

Right in the middle of all this I think, the battery pack for my main light decided to take a dump. We were nowhere near electricity. I always carry a couple of speedlites with me just in case of this scenario. I may have lost some power, but I did not lose the fun. Enjoy the approaching holiday season, and be prepared for all the excitement to come!

Thank for stopping by!

Phil

 

Time for Convention Hell!

The annual Halloween bash that is Convention Hell is getting ready to go down at Asbury Park’s Convention Hall. For the past three years Dark City Entertainment has put on what has become, the party of the year. The entire arena is transformed into a gigantic concert hall of spookiness and select local bands grace the stage to cover some of their favorite artists. While song is the highlight of the night, this is the one event where I will bypass the music photos for some step and repeat portrait stylings. Of course with everyone being in costume and when the opportunity presents itself, I just have to play around with the shots.  A little diddy I made up of the hostess and her bill, no this is not the official flyer.

When you have 800 people attend an event, in some amazing costumes, can it get any better for a portrait guy? Me thinks not.  Two of my favorite from last years gala:

I have never been that slick in doing composites, it still takes me forever to cut something out, but the more you try the better you get, I think. One of those things that in person instruction would be a blessing. Online classes don’t cut it for me for this. This next one I think I have used somewhere before, but I really like their look so I popped them on a new background:

These guys are from two years ago and is one of the first composites I did from these shows when I started acquiring backgrounds.

Well, blood and ghoul is part of the mantra of the season…

Turn of the century NY set in London? Little help with this period style please…

Love this dude, The Purge….

That’s all for now. Thanks for stopping by, See you on the 28th!

Phil

Summer? What Summer…

Summer? What Summer. If anyone knows where it went, please let me know. I do not think I have ever experienced those three months, you know, June, July, August, that seemed to go by so fast. The weather was a bit funky too as August had many windows open days, certainly great for the electric bill but I still missed the whole hanging outside thing. Since it was gone in the blink of an eye I will attribute this to one thing in particular, the full-time job had me losing my mind. One persons decision destroyed three months for me, funny thing is he is no longer employed by us. Go figure.  Now that things are settled down, I am slowly returning to a normal existence and recalling all the good things that happened.

My saving grace has always been the photo gig, my other life, really my real life.  The good part of the summer started off when I was hired to shoot a wedding, on the beach, in the middle of June and with a bunch of friends in attendance. This was a lifesaver for me emotionally and I was riding this high for the rest of the month. By choice I do not do many weddings. I love the smaller more intimate ones the best, the ones where people in attendance mean something to each other. Less than 100 people, preferably less than 50. Give me a private affair with 20 people and I am in my glory. Very chill with enough room and time to get everything accomplished. When it really comes down to it, we all have a close group of people we associate with, they all mean something to the heart and are not just a relative of a relatives friend. The past two weddings I did my wife manned the video for me. We did this as an experiment really to see how it would come out. So far so good and now I need to learn how to edit video.

Over the next few posts I will be sharing a few of the summer shoots, all people aside from one longish hike and some falls. Um, waterfalls.

Donna and Joe have been friends for years and they finally had the opportunity to become one. Both are paramedics, both are parents. Joe is also a Police Officer and Donna is even a grandma! So what it really comes down to, is both know how to relax and both know how to throw party. The weather was beautiful for their chosen day, slightly windy and a bit overcast so no one wilted in their fancy clothes.

I was pregaming with the bride, enjoyed some Mimosas and some killer window light

Did not see Joe till we were at the beach, of course he was doing his best to stay undercover

This next image..the look into each others eyes, no words need be spoken but they are actually both saying – I got you now…

A couple of after the ceremony Beach Portraits of course,

And one that we broke out into song while under the boardwalk

What do you think happened with this? Surprisingly, they both stayed clean

And at the end of the night when the adults were just getting started, the youngest ones were the smartest. Thank You Donna and Joe for kicking off the summer right!

Till the next time, Thanks for stopping by!

Phil

The Beauty of the Face and its Subtleties

My favorite thing about portrait photography is capturing the subtleties of the face. How micro expressions develop out of the smallest of movements and adjustments.

A little twitch, a minor change in posture, the smallest rise of the eyebrow can bring an image from ok to wow in a fraction of a heartbeat. This is beautiful. What landscape photographers possibly wait an hour or more for, those who capture people can attain in seconds. Now, of course in both instances the subjects have to cooperate and both could strike out and gain not a thing but one has control over their subjects and the other is at the mercy of mother nature.

My last session of 2015 was with a dancer that had a look I noticed down at the school while shooting rehearsals last spring. A look that screamed to be captured. This has happened more than once for various reasons, but this instance spoke volumes, moved me quite a bit. And it was all about the look of the face.

Christmas Holidays gave her mom and I the time needed to schedule the session. Fanfreakintastic is was. Still going through all the images but I came across this series of eight successive images that reveals what drives me in creating portraits. Each frame is different, each look unique. Some work, some do not.

The first two images are the concluding run of some keepers, then I lost her for a minute before getting her back. Processing was just some minor tweaks in Lightroom, none of these have been retouched yet. Kylie_PShepherd-23-2Kylie_PShepherd-24-2

I started losing her here a bit as we transitioned into a different feel. This is where the subtle movement comes in. I always capture the transitions, you never know what will come out of them. The fortunate thing about the digital age. Kylie_PShepherd-25-2Kylie_PShepherd-26-2Kylie_PShepherd-27-2

Those times when you wish you remembered what you said to get this reaction. Probably threw out a Hurleyism. Kylie_PShepherd-28-2Kylie_PShepherd-29-2

Transition complete, we have a winner. A completely different look seven images later and some fun in the process. How beautiful is that!  Kylie_PShepherd-30-2

Looking forward to many great things in 2016. I wish all of you a great transition in to the new year as well.

Thanks for Stopping by, drummers will be coming soon! Till next time…

Phil